Employment Quality's Perceptions Among the Belgian Labour Force: The Emergence of a New Social Compromise

Friday, 3 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
CLM.3.05 (Clement House)
Fabrice Travaglianti, ValoRH, ULg, Liege, Belgium
Amelie Dervaux, Lentic, HEC - ULg, Liege, Belgium
Laura Beuker, CRIS, ISHS - ULg, Liege, Belgium
Julie Gérard, CRIS, ISHS - ULg, Liege, Belgium
François Pichault, Lentic, HEC - ULg, Liege, Belgium
Recently, new forms of work have changed the work nature, especially in terms of contractual relationships and flexible work arrangements (Capelli & Keller, 2013). Indeed, a multiplication of mixed and hybrid professional careers, midway between the traditional employee and self-employed workers, are observed (Kalleberg et al., 2003).

Are those flexible arrangements accepted by the workers ? This presentation aims to consider the labour force’s point of view about flexible work arrangements and to better understand their definition of a good quality job.

To do this, we had the opportunity to integrate into the Belgian Labour Force Survey 2013 (LFS: socio-economic survey organized by the European Commission in each of the Member States), a question concerning employment quality: "Among the following possibilities, which do you think are the three that best characterize a good job? ". From the 12 proposals, respondents had to choose 3 in order of importance.

Globally, respondents define a quality job in terms of wages, tasks variety, and positive atmosphere with colleagues. When we want to highlight eventual differences between the LFS target groups, results shows a consensus on the individual needs. Indeed, in all groups, the specific results are not so different from the global one. Surprisingly, social protection issues, long-term contract or training appear at the end of the ranking.

Results show two interesting trends. First, respondents seem to be open to the notion of flexibility. Indeed, they associate the variety of tasks with the employment quality. According to the « Self Determination Theory » (Ryan & Deci, 2000), individuals will function optimally if their three basics needs (i.e. autonomy, competence and relatedness) are taken into account. This need for competence could be fulfilled through the benefit resulting from functional flexibility and thus from task variety (Reilly, 1998).


However, beyond this flexibility, respondents are first looking for income’s regularity. Income’s continuity is more concerned here than contract’s continuity. In third place, the positive working atmosphere occupies an important place. According to Loriol (2000), shared values help to overcome the difficulties and to cope with working charge. Moreover, social support is seen as a “job resource” and has a positive impact on well-being at work. (Demerouti et al., 2001)


Both these trends probably allow us to consider the new face of the ideal work in contemporary society. A kind of new social compromise appears: experience different work activities while enjoying a secure income and a relational anchor. According to workers perception, the challenge is more to ensure their employability and secure their path rather than their job itself. This probably reinforces the principle of transitional labour markets proposed by Gazier et al. (2009) and the importance of protecting and ensuring the "gateways" of individuals within the labour market in order to avoid insecurity periods.

This could have a significant impact concerning the role of intermediaries on the labour market. Indeed, innovative forms such as « Freelancers Unions », « employers groups », « employment and activity cooperatives » provide income security forms while allowing various activities.